reappropriate

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

my father: money and my parents

In regards to this impending move, my father has been acting absolutely hysterical over the last couple of weeks. I just don't know how to deal with him right now. Since graduation two years ago, he has been totally fixated on trying to "re-open" the lines of communication between us. All fine and dandy except the minute I actually do talk about something relevant, like this impending move, he goes all manic and obsessive. First of all, it was bothering me that he was so thrilled about me moving to Arizona. A part of me was extremely worried that he was getting the false impression that electroman and I were planning to break up in August because of this move. As soon as I realized that this might be happening, I decided to try and nip it in the bud and let my father now that we were not planning anything of the sort. I also let him know that electroman planned on helping me move to Arizona and that my current plan consists of trying to get a UHaul and spending the time driving to Arizona (to me, that sounds like fun...) My dad just emailed me basically trying to cajole me into getting a moving company for "safety reasons". While I'm sure driving to Arizona is not as safe as sitting in my bedroom clutching a pillow with my lights off, I'm fairly certain I'm not going to keel over the minute I hit a long stretch of highway. A little background: my father lives in Asia, my mother in Toronto. They are still married but really don't get along. In fact, one of the few things they agree on is that they would much rather I were dating someone white or Asian, and therefore, an ongoing tension between myself and them is my relationship with electroman. There's a long and traumatic history between me and my folks regarding this struggle, but the last time we really dealt with it was just after graduation when my father told me that he wanted to disown me and would refuse to give me another penny so long as I was living with electroman. Being an unemployed recent graduate of Cornell University with a closet-full of clothes and some textbooks to my name, I was terrified -- thankfully, electroman's parents were kind enough to help me out for that summer until I landed this tech job in October after my graduation. My family basically operates around the principle that material goods = love. Growing up as a kid, my punishment for any infraction was to be reminded how I didn't pay the bills and that nothing that I could claim was my own was indeed mine. My parents barged into my room and washroom well past the age of reason because it was they who actually owned the room. I could never lock a door in the house, nor was my room a meaningful escape when my parents were pissing me off. If I did something bad, my mother would tantrum up and down the stairs removing items from my room like my phone, my stereo, even my computer or lamp and keep them until she felt like forgiving me (weeks? months? never?) But, it never really struck home how important those material goods was to me until my mother threatened to take away my college tuition if I didn't break up with electroman and when my father, knowing that I needed help after graduation, would rather keep his money than his daughter. It was then that I decided I would have none of it. Though my father has since recanted in an effort to become closer to my sister and I, I cannot forgive him for that. I've tried, I just can't -- everything he does now seems hollow in comparison to how wounded I was when he told me he didn't want me in his family anymore. I decided I didn't want anyone to have that kind of power over me -- whether I love electroman deeply or even if he was just a fling, it should be my decision who I want as a companion; I should not be forced to live my life based upon the strings financially binding me or be forced to choose the man I love or the diploma that will brighten my future. It took a lot of soul-searching to harden myself to the callousness of my parents, but I came to grips with the morally ambiguous realization that I would never be able to love them like I should. I also vowed never again to take their money -- I would cut the strings. This isn't all that sudden a decision, either. Growing up, I had always been furious with the idea that nothing I "owned" was mine because I didn't pay for it, and was always terrified of the instability of having something removed if I did anything perceivably wrong. I got a job at the age of 12, and have continued to hold jobs since then. Though I continued to receive money for school during high school, I asked for it less and less and by my last few years, was primarily paying for travel and lunches out of my own pocket. My first big summer job paycheque I saved up for a TV -- a TV/VCR combination that I still own today. My family already owns several television sets, but this one was mine -- no matter how much my parents might get mad at me, this was the one thing that they could never take away from me. Outside of some monetary gifts received at Christmas and New Year (red packages of money given to the younger generation by the older generation, called "hong bao", are exchanged at most family gatherings and are extremely bad luck to refuse) since graduation, I would rather go without than ask my parents for help, though God knows I could've used it a few times over the past few years. My current paycheque stretches just enough to cover my expenses but leaves little left over for luxuries or unforseen emergencies, and I've had to sacrifice quite a bit, including weddings I wanted to attend a couple months ago because of financial concerns. Even graduate applications were almost too much for me to handle -- but there, I just pinched pennies and cut down the number of apps I sent out dramatically rather than ask for help. I just can't bring myself to do it -- I can't go back to being in a situation where my life is beind led by the person with the bankroll, and I definitely would never be able to forgive myself if one day I were forced to make a decision between some material good I need and the man I want. Tuition was the last time. Bringing this tangent home, the move to Arizona has become a stressful affair, and not by my design -- I haven't been too concerned about it, but now my mother wants to be in the UHaul, my bank account may not be deep enough to fund anything but the UHaul, and my Dad wants to throw money at the situation rather than let me UHaul, with either electroman or my mother. All I want to do is get there, on my own dime, with all my stuff more or less intact. It feels like everyone around me is trying to push me into one recourse or another, and dammit, there are greater things to worry about in regards to my impending move to Arizona than what route I'm going to take to get there. For one thing, given all this crap about me, my parents, and my stubborn refusal to take their money, how the bloody hell am I going to get the car I need to meaningfully exist in Tucson?

4 Comments:

Blogger phillyjay said...

I can understand wanting to be on your own two feet, and not depend on your parents especially when it comes to money.Something we all go through, although not the same situation you are in.

I gotta say though, cutting your daughter off financially, AND from family completely over a guy that's not even a horrible person is pretty screwed up.Sometimes I forget just how much some people dislikes blacks.

6/16/2005 12:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Kaede said...

No offense to anyone, least of all Jenn's parents, but not all racist ppl are white...and a lot of ppl forget that. People act so surprised at that fact, but it's not just white ppl who look down on others for their skin colour, which is beyond their control anyway...

6/16/2005 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

It's scary how much I understand how you feel. (being your sis and all) Mom and Dad's actions are not only about astroman (?) but it also has to do with their fear of losing control. I respect your ability to cut the strings that used to hold you back. Your independence is something that I continue to strive for. Remember that it is YOUR life. I'm sorry that you have had to deal with this conflict for so long. However, regardless of what Mom and Dad do, say, or feel, I'll always support all of your decisions.

Baby-Hugz

6/16/2005 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

"It's scary how much I understand how you feel. (being your sis and all) Mom and Dad's actions are not only about astroman (?) but it also has to do with their fear of losing control. I respect your ability to cut the strings that used to hold you back. Your independence is something that I continue to strive for. Remember that it is YOUR life. I'm sorry that you have had to deal with this conflict for so long. However, regardless of what Mom and Dad do, say, or feel, I'll always support all of your decisions. "


.... astroman?

hahahahahaha.

thanks sweetie, i appreciate that, and i hope you don't think i'm hating on mom and dad. i love them a lot, i would just prefer to make my own decisions ^_^

6/17/2005 02:59:00 AM  

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